In the new status quo, shopping online is associated less with risk and more with opportunity, convenience, and better experiences. Consumers are choosing to place their trust in delivery services offered by a growing number of industries.
Healthcare is one such industry that has turned to delivery services to improve patient experiences and increase loyalty. In 2017, the NCPA Digest estimated that 70% of independent pharmacies offer delivery services. Chain pharmacies, too, have taken note, with huge names like CVS and Walgreens offering same-day and one- to two-day prescription delivery services.
More recently, traditional pharmacies are facing increased competition from challenger brands like Capsule, ZipDrug, and Amazon’s PillPack, which operate primarily through delivery. With the pressure on to stand out and succeed in this landscape, offering a prescription delivery service seems like a solid choice for increasing revenue and patient loyalty.
Benefits of Pharmacy Delivery Services
The shift to relying on pharmacy delivery is driven in a large part by necessity and convenience for patients. From this point of view, receiving prescriptions via direct mail can be extremely appealing to customers. In addition to increased access, delivery services also save patients the time it takes to pick up prescriptions.
From a pharmacist’s perspective, offering delivery services to patients presents a number of tangible benefits, including:
- Increased revenue: Introducing a delivery service can help boost your pharmacy’s bottom line. According to one study, independent pharmacies who offered pharmacy home delivery service saw an increase of 6% to 8% of total revenues about three to four months after initiating the service.
- Access to more patients: Providing delivery services could help give you access to patients you may not have been able to reach otherwise, particularly those with low mobility or in remote areas.
- Improved adherence: As one of the performance metrics your pharmacy is measured against, maintaining high medication adherence is beneficial to your business as well as your patients. Delivery services are a great way to reduce the likelihood patients, particularly those with chronic conditions, fail to pick up a refill and increase the chances they remain adherent. An analysis of 2016 data from Kaiser Permanente found that patients with chronic conditions who received their medication through delivery were almost 88% adherence to their regimens.
- Insight into patient behavior: Delivery also offers an avenue for you to learn more about your patients’ preferences, such as what time of day they prefer to receive their deliveries. This could be a time when they are more amenable to ads, refill reminders, or other personalized communication that compliments the prescription (e.g., information on supplements to address nutrient depletion caused by their medication).
As a brick-and-mortar pharmacy, you already have the advantage of a personal connection with your patients. Think of a delivery service as an additional touchpoint to build your relationship with them. If you already have a service in place, or are considering starting one, here are some things to keep in mind to maximize the opportunity:
- Consider a partnership: Starting a safe and sustainable delivery service for your pharmacy is a huge undertaking. Therefore, carefully consider whether it is the right step for you. If you’re unable to handle the logistics completely, partnering with a company that specializes in working with pharmacies on prescription delivery may be the right move.
- Deliver to homes and work places: In an age of convenience, customers expect to be able to get their deliveries wherever they want. This expectation extends to prescriptions as well. Target nearby business areas and office buildings and expand your scope of delivery.
- Offer a range of delivery times: Similar to the last point, offering deliveries early in the morning or late at night, when people are not at work, will go a long way toward ensuring your patients are satisfied with your delivery service.
- Branding: Delivery packages are a great way to showcase your pharmacy’s brand. Get packaging that highlights your local roots, for instance, or promotes your pharmacy’s services. Small things that go a long way.
- Expand your reach: Branded packaging may be one way to highlight your pharmacy, but you should also invest in marketing efforts to promote your delivery services. Whether through word of mouth, offering incentives for patient referrals, or simple good old-fashioned advertisement on your delivery vehicle and bags, generating patient interest will ensure your pharmacy’s delivery service is on its way to success.
Caught between opportunity and necessity, the job of a pharmacist has never been more exciting than today. The research boom for almost all known conditions generated by consumer demand for better and safer remedies brings new drugs on the market almost every year. You can almost feel how you help patients better and better by the day. On top of it, all the rules are changing, consumer behavior is redefining itself constantly, and new opportunities arise. This is the time for those willing and able to embrace change to take action.